Life is Strange never quite caught my attention and despite playing all games across the series, it did not make an impact. I loved the setting and premise of the game, but not the writing which felt like it was written by adults trying to be cool. Being a dad, you could argue that I may not be the target audience considering the story of Life is Strange follows teenagers with power.
So naturally, I went in with zero expectations for Life is Strange: True Colors, the latest game in the series from a nascent developer Deck Nine, and it is the best game in the series so far: an emotional masterpiece, quite literally.
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- Developer: Deck Nine
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Price: ₹3,499 on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series and PC
You play as Alex Chen, a girl with a paradoxical superpower called Empathy, which can be wonderful and troubling for her. She can feel the strong emotions of people and even at times read emotion as words. These powers manifest visually as coloured aurasvisible to her only. The unfortunate side effect sees Alex being controlled by that emotion, causing her to lose control and mimic the person whose emotional aura she sees.Alex comes with her own backstory, having grown up in a foster family and living in a group home for several years, before her long-lost brother Gabe reaches out to her.
The introverted Alex moves to the picturesque and idyllic Haven Springs in the mountains of Colorado where she reunites with Gabe, her optimistic brother and meets the other residents. However, tragedy ensues and Alex must use her power to get to the bottom of the mystery.
We veered away from spoilers here and urge you to not read any True Colors synopses online. It is rather odd, though, that Square Enix advertised a crucial story twist on their website and other media.
True Colors draws you in from the get-go owing to a wonderful story that paces itself in introducing its setting and characters. Much of the game’s tone resonates through an ethereal soundtrack that helps define the way Alex sees the world.
Typical to the Life is Strange games, True Colors has a story-based choice-and-consequence gameplay system.Because of the emotive plotlines, the game sheds a light on mental health issues such as depression, social anxiety and loneliness. Each event in the game is also rather enjoyable as the choices offered to the player are meaningful, even in the quotidian conversations. There is believability in every frame due to the impeccable voice acting and motion capture from a talented cast that includes Erika Mori, Han Soto, Exzinia Scott and Anastasia Davidson.
Do not expect platforming or intense action sequences. As the player, you are pretty much on rails through the story, with the game opening up into spaces where you can interact with objects in the environment. However, the design makes every interaction meaningful. As you progress, the denizens invite you for many fun activities, including Live Action Role Playing (LARPing) adventure which takes the guise of a turn-based RPG.
It is very hard to find fault with Life is Strange: True Colors. Small things annoy you at times, such as the spotty frame rate of the launch version. However, all the complaints are negligible and patchable. True Colors, like its name, brims with a lively palette of emotion and hues from the beautiful town to the expressive facial animations of the characters.
This is a must-play for story-driven adventure game lovers. If you have been waiting to play a Life is Strange game, this is a good place to start.
The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel